Calvary United Methodist Church, home to Mount Airy's largest congregation, needs more room.
Attendance at the church has doubled in the past 10 years, with Sunday services attracting about 400 parishioners. The congregation numbers about 1,000, said the Rev. Dennis Yocum, senior pastor at Calvary United Methodist.
To accommodate its growing congregation, the church, at 403 S. Main St., is in the early stages of a $475,000 renovation and expansion project.
"With the growth of the community, we project the congregation could continue to grow, and we're trying to make plans to be ready for that kind of growth," said Mr. Yocum, whose wife, the Rev. Carol Yocum, is the associate pastor.
The church identified the need to expand its physical facilities four years ago as part of a long-term planning project.
A church task force assigned to develop building and expansion proposals settled on a plan to expand the Sunday school classroom space and build a large multipurpose room.
The task force also agreed to renovate and enlarge the sanctuary.
In January, the church building committee launched a capital campaign to raise $475,000 over three years to fund the building project.
Calvary United Methodist recently hired Duane, Cahill, Mullineaux and Mullineaux -- a Gaithersburg architectural firm that specializes in church construction -- to design the expansion project.
Architect Sue Mullineaux, who has been working with Calvary's building committee, said the members still are considering design plans.
"There will be a strong sensitivity to the existing architecture," she said.
The committee hopes to begin accepting bids from contractors next summer.
Ms. Mullineaux said preliminary plans call for the restoration of the sanctuary to its original design. The space was divided over the years to create more room for parishioners.
"It's a richly detailed interior with wood and nice ornamentation," she said.
Calvary United Methodist Church was built in 1916, and a two-story expansion, used for offices and classrooms, was completed in the early 1960s.
A history of the church published in 1988 provides some details about the original building: "The cost was $35,000, to be paid off in 15 years. The pastor's salary at that time was $1,400 a year."
The town of Mount Airy, circa 1916, is described as "a gathering place and temporary home of 200-300 rough, brawling railroad construction workers. Women did not venture on the street alone."